The Rangers’ Willie Calhoun suffered a fractured jaw March 8, but the outfielder has made encouraging progress in the week-plus since then. Calhoun flew back to Texas with his teammates on Monday after receiving medical clearance, MLB.com TR Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. Aside from the fractured jaw, Calhoun’s not dealing with any other symptoms. He’s slated to begin light cardio activity later this week.
After taking a 95 mph fastball in the face from the Dodgers’ Julio Urias, Calhoun looked like a sure bet to open the season on the injured list. But that was before Major League Baseball shut down for an indeterminate amount of time because of the global coronavirus pandemic. It’s obvious that the longer play is halted, the better Calhoun’s chances are of logging a full season, though it’s anyone’s guess when the sport will resume or how many games the league will squeeze in this year.
A full slate from Calhoun would undoubtedly be welcome for the Rangers, who saw the former top-100 prospect turn into a solid contributor in 2019. Calhoun, 25, accrued a career-high 337 plate appearances and batted .269/.323/.524 with 21 home runs and an impressive 15.6 percent strikeout rate.
The health of Calhoun figures to affect the role of Nick Solak, also 25. Solak had been in line to fill in as the Rangers’ left fielder during Calhoun’s absence. Solak can move around the diamond, though, as he played second and third during his initial big league stint last season and lined up at all three outfield positions as a minor leaguer. And Solak certainly made a case for a larger role during his MLB debut last year, when he hit a robust .293/.393/.491 and tallied five homers in 135 trips to the plate.